National Guard ‘task force badge’ underway near southern border
YUMA, AZ — Hundreds of National Guard troops have been deployed to border towns in Arizona as part of an operation to support local law enforcement.
The task force insignia was created last year by Governor Doug Ducey after increased activity along the United States-Mexico border.
A total of about 220 troops were stationed in four counties to assist 18 sheriff’s offices or police departments.
“A lot of these agencies were using overtime funds to recruit officers to fill a lot of these roles,” said Task Force Commander Maj. Frederick Thomas Fell.
“Some of them were pulling officers off the streets,” he added.
Nationwide, departments are facing a labor shortage resulting in shorter response times.
According to Fell, by filling support roles with troops, police and deputies can return to patrols.
Some troops are stationed in the medical department of county jails.
“If we weren’t there, the nurses would be able to do what they have to do, but the continuity of care goes down at that point,” the CPS said. Dustin Dangley, a Phoenix native stationed at the Yuma County Detention Center.
“We work in many areas, we multitask a lot,” Spc said. Regina Campos Miyagui.
Campos Miyagui grew up in the area and joined the army two years ago.
“It’s my first mission since I’ve been there. It was a great experience. I’m still with my family in my county,” she added.
In San Luis, the police department sent officers to deal with immigration issues, leaving them understaffed.
“As far as the immigrants coming in, some actually jumped the fence and tried to get into some of the housing estates, so we’ve been busy with that,” Lt. Marco Santana said.
Santana applauded the governor’s efforts to help local law enforcement.
“Right now we are obviously dealing with unprecedented times, we are dealing with the COVID pandemic and some of the border situation,” he said.
“Any help we can get, we are always welcome,” Santana added.
National Guard officials told ABC15 the project was budgeted at $25 million. However, they spent less than half that amount in the first nine months of the project.
No end date has been announced and military leaders have said they plan to stay in the area as long as necessary.